After a long day of Christmas shopping Domi and I came home on a high. We love being around the holiday spirit. We even allowed ourselves some peppermint mochas…
As soon as we walked in the door, Domi quickly and meticulously wrapped one belated birthday present for my Uncle and then we walked back out the door in an amazing mood. It was a good Sunday and we were headed for some homemade matzoh ball soup, so it was only going to get better.
I should mention that my darling husband is a little anal when it comes to security measures. He checks the stove knobs two or three times before we leave the house. He checks to make sure every door is locked and then checks again. He always makes sure our alarm system is on and then finally we head out the door. Even though I make fun of this quirk of his, I am endlessly grateful for it.
This Sunday, as per usual, he had done all his checks, he set the alarm, we closed the door behind us, locked it and then checked it one more time. When we first moved into our house someone broke-in so we are always just a little extra careful…
We laughed and talked as we walked over to Uncle Willie’s. When we got there there were hugs all around. We were all happy to see each other and catch up after what felt like ages. We were busy chatting when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number so I dismissed the call thinking I wasn’t going to interrupt quality family time for someone I didn’t know. Then the same number called Domi….that was weird. I still thought nothing of it, but told Domi he should pick-up because it seemed strange. He did.
“It’s the alarm company. They said our alarm is going off.” Since our alarm goes off at random on occasion I didn’t really think anything of it. “Let me check the cameras,” I said. Just to be safe.
I quickly opened the app on my phone and that’s when I saw two hooded figures walking across our front porch and I heard a window smash. “Tell them to call the cops.” I said trying to remain calm. I was sure with our alarm screeching in the background there was no way they were going to stick around. When you hear an alarm you’re supposed to run, right?
“Alright, we should head over,” said Uncle Willie. We hopped in his massive car and drove as fast as we could up to our house. The alarm was still screeching. It was deafening, even from outside. Uncle Willie pulled an umbrella out of his trunk, ready to defend us Mary Poppins style…I guess. Well, an umbrella was all we had and it was better to have something than nothing. Valiantly Domi and Uncle Willie approached the house. I begged the guys not to go in, just in case. Shockingly they didn’t. I told Rebecca to stay in the car and then because I’m a weenie I climbed in next to her and locked the doors.
Our neighbor across the street ran out and called to us, “I heard your alarm go off and saw two guys running so I called 911.”
We thanked him and went over the details of what we’d seen on the cameras and what he’d caught that we’d missed. We waited for the police, alarm still blaring in the background. About 25 minutes later they showed up and searched our house. I was positive that they had run immediately after hearing the alarm so I wasn’t so concerned. It wasn’t until the police came out of the house and said, “they ransacked two bedrooms upstairs, you better go and take a look.” For a second I didn’t understand. I was shocked. I was sure we were safe with an alarm and cameras, I mean really, what else can you do?
I walked into my closet and immediately I saw it, or lack thereof it. They had gotten really lucky. We had just gotten back from vacation and so my jewelry case with all of my favorite jewelry had been out, conveniently sitting in a travel case. I had yet to put it in the safe. I felt so stupid.
I started to cry. It wasn’t the literal value of what they had taken (of course, the literal value was a hit, too) but they had gotten things that meant a lot to me. Items, to me, that were irreplaceable. I am as sentimental as they come. And then on top of what they had taken I looked around and saw that they had been in our stuff. They had opened my underwear drawer and who knows what they touched. Our dresser in our bedroom had been dumped all over the floor with the things they decided they could leave behind (luckily, my stuffed animals were of no interest…massive sigh of relief).
Rebecca, looked up at me, with her big beautiful brown eyes and in her wise-beyond-her-years way told me, “it’s going to be okay.” A thirteen year-old was calming me down in the aftermath of a burglary and I almost had to giggle. How was she not freaking out? God, I love her.
She was right. No one was hurt and we could all still have matzoh ball soup together, thank goodness. It’s almost as if Uncle Willie knew we would need special, comforting nourishment. After the cops finished their report we sat down to dinner. A little shaken and worse for wear, but okay. We talked about work and school and anything but what happened. We called my parents and asked them to come and stay with us. We were determined to stay at home for the night, but hey, we were still a little freaked out and hey, there is strength in numbers.
My parents stayed up with us, drinking tea, assuring us everything was going to be just fine. Finally, when we couldn’t talk about it anymore we went to bed. I closed my eyes. Should we move? I thought. But I love our house. I don’t want to leave. But I don’t feel safe. I went around and around for a few hours. I was so tired, but every rustle in the trees outside, every creak our bed made, made me jump. Then I remembered the mantra I learned when I was younger and would get scared at night, “I am safe and protected by the light and love of God.” And I just kept repeating it until I fell asleep. Then I would wake up and then I would say the mantra again and in and out of sleep I went all night long.
It wasn’t until I woke up the next day that I realized I had a choice. I could let this break-in that scared the bejeezus out of me rule how I felt about my life. I could lean into the drama of it all. I could cancel appointments and work from home in my pjs. I could tell people that I was just not up to anything today. I could go and ask for sympathy and whine about. Or, I could make life normal again. I could decide that my feeling of safety and security comes from within. That I love my house. That I don’t want to leave my house and regardless of what happens it is my haven. It was up to me. Because there will always be something to worry about. If it’s not a break in, it could be a car accident, if it’s not a car accident, it could be a plane crash. It could be literally anything. So, I decided I wasn’t going to let those burglars win. What they did in less than four minutes was not going to force me to move inward. To shut all our doors and windows. To create a fortress. To back myself into a corner where I am “safe.” My safety starts in my heart and my mind. My safety comes from remembering things are just things and events are just events. And shit happens. So, I decided for that instead. It feels like the more fun way to live. It’s a choice to look at the positive. (Don’t get me wrong, I still needed a good cry to release all of the scary stuff inside of me…this came after that…)
As we laid down to sleep last night domi asked me, “do you think the universe is trying to teach us a lesson with these break-ins?” I thought about it for a moment and said, “yes, I do. I think the universe is trying to tell us many things. I think the universe is saying we have to believe we are safe and warm no matter what. That God or the universe or something out there is going to take care of us. That we need to be a bit more careful about where we put things and that more than anything we have to be grateful for every day. For having each other and for knowing that stuff is just stuff. It can be more expensive stuff or it can be my ratty old stuffed animals, but it’s just stuff and we are safe. And also that maybe we need to do something about the income disparity in the United States. That’s what I think.”
“Okay Baby, I think so, too” he responded. We hugged each other.
I reminded him, “hey, tomorrow we’ve been together for four years. Happy almost anniversary, Bab.”
“Happy almost anniversary, Baby,” answered Domi in his most adorable smile. Then we went through our usual goodnight routine (we are totally creatures of habit). Laid our heads down on the pillows and fell fast asleep.
When we woke up this morning it was as if a cloud had been lifted. Things felt normal again and normal felt so good.
So, friends, here’s the deal…it’s just stuff and your safety and security has to come from within. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so, I think it’s better that we stop trying to guess.
Happy, happy Tuesday my lovelies! I hope you have a wonderful day and that you always feel safe and warm when you put your heads down on the pillow at night and every moment in-between.
PS I want to say that this experience has also showed me what phenomenal people we have in our lives. From our Uncle willie who valiantly defended us with his umbrella, to Rebecca who kindly reminded me that it’s all going to be okay. From our friend Alex who immediately asked if we wanted to stay with her, to Juliette who allowed us to get mad about the situation with her. To Sandy who offered to come over and lend us support and security. To our friend, Joe, who offered to come help us with more security measures, being that he’s ex-military and all and his wife who offered words of comfort and kindness. To my parents that dropped everything to come and make sure we were okay and for a solid 24 hours continued to check up on us and take us to meals and helped us feel safe. To our incredible friends Keith and Lauren who drove for two hours last night to surprise us with cookies and love. And lastly, to all of the friends and family around us that had no idea that this happened and are still there to support and love us every day. I am speechless. The best thing about when scary things happen is that you find what incredible people you have around you. They are all heroes to us every day and sometimes we forget to thank them, but there are not enough words in the English (or German) language to express our gratitude for our people and our community. We are endlessly grateful.